Experiencing the Mara Sarova

Posted on March 28, 2011

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I would have loved to start this piece with a cliche…Mara that that or Mara hiyo hiyo…

So Friday last week I departed to the Maasai Mara first as a journalist then as a domestic tourist. This is a fete that we only chance by and the Sarova Group of hotels was at its best.

Located about 100 plus kilometres off the Narok-Kisii road lies the 27-year-old facility-The Sarova Mara Game Camp. Spread on 20 plus acres of land within the 1 510 square kilometres is a welcome relief after the near three hours drive on the bumpy road.

Three things that brings me here; Sample the facility, Sample the Maasai Mara and Sample the game.

The facility is a refreshing break located only 500 metres off the main park highway that leads you to other facilities. The staff here are warm and welcoming and are all excited to usher in guests to the hotel.

In a span of 15 minutes, I had managed to respond to about ‘ten’ jambo greetings and had a fresh squeezed juice. We had a late lunch-The staff was kind enough to let us into the restaurant for a meal despite the normal 2.30pm close down time.

The food in this facility is out of this world and under the charges of Chef John Maina, all of us (about 16 scribes) were well fed and you could tell by the satisfactory smile we all had after it.

The kitchen staff here all dresses like pirates! It’s a welcome relief from the normal chefs gear that we are all used to

Chef Maina

Designed to offer an out-of-town experience, guests are housed in tents that dot the compound. The staff are way too willing to show you to the room and help you out figure what is what in the tent.

The speed at which they remember you by the first name long before you check in is amazing. Just mention your tent number and they have you by your first name.

A game drive soon follows and we manage to catch a pride of lions is relishing on a buffalo they had hunted down earlier on midday. Vichwa/Kichwa we are told is the park lingo for lions (Our driver and guide Patrick of Kobo Safaris  is a master in this)

We move on and an exciting race begins…talks of ‘Madoadoa’ fills in through the radio and tour vans race towards a particular spot. Three cheetahs have been spotted and they are taking their time. Unknown to many the cheetahs/madoadoa are planning a hunt on a Topi an antelope species, grazing about 500 metres away.

What follows is a first hand experience of BBC Big Cats Diary as the attack is planned and executed. Too bad the Topi out paces the three and takes off at a life saving speed.

The team is hosted later on at a breathtaking sundowner within the park here we bond with the team at Sarova Mara. Led by Francis Msengeti, the lodge manager we get to know more about this facility, their strengths and weakness.

Guest having dinner at the Boma

The lodge is run by a dedicated team which include Faith Waweru who we were with in school back in the days. Im utterly impressed she is the deputy lodge manager and also handles training for new staff.

Then there is Stanley Mbau the Food and Beverage Manager who confesses he has a speciality in 700 cocktails. Cool as it is none has a name like you would find at Mwendas on the ground floor of Utali House.

He also confesses that he can make the same potato in 21 different ways as well as a piece of meat in five different ways. Now that is a man you can rely on to ensure your guests are well fed.

The next day is crowned by a dinner for all the guests at the ‘Boma’. This is a setting of a Maasai traditional home and is very inviting if you want to break away from the monotony of restaurant.

It is well laid out with a bonfire and a crooner to wash down the food as Maasai dancers entertains you. It is a must attend if you ever in the Mara Sarova, as the experience is refreshingly ‘Maasai’

Just like Virgin Group chairman Sir Richard Branson declared Mara Sarova as a ‘Virgin Territory’, I’m inclined to declare it a ‘tight’ territory too.

However something to note about the whole Mara trip…The road!!! Narok County Council collects billions of shilling annually from the park. They must reinvest this back by improving on the road network.

Staff at the Mara Sarova

To all the wonderful people of Sarova led by Peter Waweru (PW), Msengeti, Faith, Cedric, Dorothy, Chef Maina and the whole team: MARA TUTARUDI MARA HIYO HIYO

Colleagues who I bet also have there experiences documented include ‘my boy’ Shiro Gaitho here and Chief Biko Here

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